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I have a somewhat complex piece of furniture I'm making (an art easel) that has mechanically moving parts. I'm currently applying stain/varnish to all of the pieces individually before putting it all together at the end.

By "putting together", I don't mean glued, but connected with metal brackets, hinges, gears and such.

I went this way instead of putting it together and then varnishing so that the varnish wouldn't glue the movements together and stuff. But I'm second guessing myself because there are 20+ individual pieces and it's taking me FOREVER to do them all individually.

Is there a better way of finishing a piece that has mechanically moving parts in it? Or is the tediousness of this just something inherent in a complex, moving design?
 

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I went this way instead of putting it together and then varnishing so that the varnish wouldn't glue the movements together and stuff. But I'm second guessing myself because there are 20+ individual pieces and it's taking me FOREVER to do them all individually.
That's the argument for finishing the pieces before assembly. It would be a big timesaver to spray a finish on cabinets with the drawer hardware, and door hinges mounted, but would be a mess. I can imagine your project with moving parts, would be difficult to get all the areas finished equally (with no drips), once assembled.






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